Health Canada Assessment Suggests that Talc May be Harmful to Human Health

Health Canada Assessment Suggests that Talc May be Harmful to Human Health

Posted: Monday March 4th, 2019

Author: Pinky Mazumder

In late 2018, Health Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada announced the completion of the draft screening assessment of talc. Talc (Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number 14807-96-6) is a naturally occurring mineral typically found in consumer products (e.g. cosmetics, natural health products, talcum powder, food, plastics, paper). Talc is currently listed as a chemical substance in the Natural Health Product Ingredient Database and is also on the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist as a restricted ingredient under certain exceptions. However recent scientific findings have associated the inhalation of talc and its use in the female genital area to be harmful for health. As a result, the government of Canada issued the draft screening assessment in Canada Gazette Part I, for considering measures to prohibit or restrict the use of talc. The following article will discuss highlights from the Health Canada draft assessment.  

Talc is often used as an ingredient in health products, cosmetics, and in food as a permitted additive. Environmental analysis suggested that talc had low potential to cause ecological harm as it does not enter the environment in quantities that would result in immediate or long term harm to the environment. However international assessments from the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency have suggested that talc possesses a risk to human health. 


Exposure to talc through inhalation is possible through various self-care products (e.g. cosmetics, natural health products).  In studies conducted by the United States National Toxicology Program, non-cancer lung effects were associated with inhaled exposure of cosmetic-grade talc in rats and mice.  According to the draft assessment, pressed powder products were not of concern.

Perineal Exposure

Studies conducted in human subjects, suggested a statistically significant association between perineal exposure to talc and ovarian cancer, and data indicates this to be a causal effect. Perineal exposure to talc is possible through various product types such as body powder, baby powder, diaper creams, rash creams, body wipes, and bath bombs.  Based on such information, the Health Canada assessment concluded that talc is subject to paragraph 64(c) of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act as it enters the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that constitute or may constitute danger to human life or health.  

For more information, please refer to the Health Canada assessment on talc cited in the Reference section below.  Thank you for reading Regulated Affairs, the CAPRA blog.  CAPRA is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing professional development opportunities in Regulatory Affairs.  Please feel free to share our blog posts and join us on social media.


Draft Screening Assessment Talc (Mg3H2(SiO3)4)

New Release – Health Canada Assessment Suggests that Talc May be Harmful to Human Health

Talc – Natural Health Products Ingredients Database